Entertainment & Media

Collaboration

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for some pain in my lower back. After explaining my situation and answering all his questions, he recommended some blood work and possibly an ultrasound to check for kidney stones. I told him that after 43 years, I think I know what’s wrong. After all, it […]

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for some pain in my lower back. After explaining my situation and answering all his questions, he recommended some blood work and possibly an ultrasound to check for kidney stones. I told him that after 43 years, I think I know what’s wrong. After all, it is my body, and I’ve had this discomfort before. He went on to explain why the tests were important so we can effectively diagnose the issue and make sure the treatment is the right one. I’m not a fan of medical testing, so I decided against it and left.

This past weekend, I ate out for dinner at a local restaurant. After ordering my steak, I wandered back into the kitchen to supervise the chef. I told him when to turn it over on the grill, what seasoning to add and when it was done. I knew all of this from a YouTube video I watched on how to cook the best steak.

Then most recently, I took my car in for service. There was a banging noise coming from the left front and a subtle shudder in the wheels. I knew something wasn’t right. The service tech looked at it and told me I have one tire that’s really worn and needs replacing, but suggested I get at least get two tires so he can rotate and balance all four wheels for me. I wasn’t sure I really needed a second tire. He told me the banging noise under the hood was actually incorrect spark plugs. “It happens,” he said. “You can have deposit buildup in the chamber is causing the knock you hear.” After some thought, I decided on one tire and handled the noise by using higher octane gas. I’m sure that will fix it. It’s my car, after all.

All three of these scenarios should sound ridiculous to you. Why on earth would I not follow the advice of a medical professional, an experienced chef or a certified mechanic? Considering the fact that I am not an expert in medicine, culinary arts or automotive engineering, it would be silly for me to ignore them and do it my own way.

Yet this consistently happens in marketing and advertising.  I experience it, I’ve witnessed it, and I’ve heard about this very thing from countless colleagues in the field.  We often feel handcuffed in the process by personal preferences, decision-by-committee, and uneducated perspectives. The struggle is real.  There are too many conversations that are just about the rate, often with apples-to-oranges comparisons.  Price doesn’t always equal value.

What’s missing?

Collaboration. Brilliant brand stories can easily get lost in the shuffle, miss the mark and fade into the background, drowned out by today’s noisy and cluttered media marketplace.  Instead, try letting an expert in media or marketing help you, the expert in your business, tell a unique brand story.  Each party brings craft and strategy to the table.  Craft is the collection of knowledge, experience, and talent. It can’t be a one-sided relationship. They never last… just like real life.

“Craft is fascinating. A Taxi driver talking about taxi driving is very, very interesting,” says James Lipton, Writer and Executive Producer of Inside the Actors Studio.  You’d be amazed at what you can learn by listening to someone talk about their craft.  That goes for both parties.

When we approach this with the idea that learning from each other is how the best results are possible, collaboration can truly flourish, better stories are told, and the results will follow.

My recommendation is to ask some questions to your marketing partners. There are many talented and capable media professionals out there who can assist you with this topic. Take the time to have some conversation with them about your business and share your craft.  Many of us are more than just media sales reps.  There are decades of experience and knowledge available to you, across multiple media platforms, and we all have a desire to help you succeed.

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Communications 101

Making your Message the Best it Can Be I’ve recently had the pleasure of being a media trainer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was the world’s first collegiate business school and is arguably the best MBA program in the country.  These students are some of the brightest and most ambitious […]

Making your Message the Best it Can Be

I’ve recently had the pleasure of being a media trainer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was the world’s first collegiate business school and is arguably the best MBA program in the country.  These students are some of the brightest and most ambitious business minds I’ve ever encountered.  They intrinsically know why making your message the best it can be, matters at all levels of business. Thus, all Wharton MBA students, even those in the Executive Level program, must take a management communication course. For some, it comes naturally.  For others, it’s a learned skill. We test their speech making skills, both with and without a teleprompter, then grill them on questions they could potentially get from reporters.  It’s always entertaining and enlightening.

Good leaders need to be confident public speakers and know the essentials of persuasive speech.  How you organize and deliver a presentation to your peer’s matters. Delivering a speech at a conference matters. How you defend your views matter. An interview with a reporter matters.
A reporter wants your opinion on the topic you’ve been asked to talk about, but you have to remember it’s a chance to communicate with the audience and let them hear your expertise.  It’s an opportunity to shine and let your organization shine. You’re talking to more than just the reporter holding the microphone or the reporter’s notebook.

I’ve interviewed thousands of business owners, doctors, and other professionals during my years in television. After I make you say your name and spell it for me, my first question is almost always the same: “Tell me about your job or your company.”

Often, I get a regurgitation of the company mission statement.  Something like:

“(Company Name) is one of the leading companies in the Lehigh Valley making high-quality (product) in an affordable and sustainable manner.”
The short, sound bite friendly answer is good time-wise but it could have been better if you’d given me an animated, example filled answer like:

“Whenever you buy (competitor’s product), you know how they always seem to cost too much and break within weeks of opening the box? My company (name) makes (product) that aren’t going to break after you open the package – we guarantee it – and we’ve even figured out a way to make a high-quality (product) affordable and environmentally-friendly.”
Both are practiced responses, but the second is far more engaging.

Engagement is the key to being asked to be a regular TV interview subject or guest speaker.

Here are my top 5 tips for business communication:

1 Have a clear message.  Get to the point!  Use examples that back up your position.

2 Don’t speak above your audience.  Leave the technical jargon for your next professional meeting.

3 Speak to your audience, not an individual reporter.  By avoiding names, it’s clear that you’re addressing the larger audience.  You want your message to be broadly accepted. Don’t thank someone for their question or compliment them and say “that’s a good question.”  Most reporters are practiced pros.  Their questions are usually good. If you compliment one, you have to compliment them all!

4 Be prepared for tough questions.  As mentioned, reporters are pros. They aren’t there to grill you, but they should ask tough questions.   Address the inquiry and bring it back to your message.  Never say “No comment.”  It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that” and then bridge it back to what you want to talk about. No comment just triggers your audience to think you’re guilty of something. Say things like “looking at the big picture” or “what I do know.” It allows you to bridge back to where you started to rephrase and repeat your major points.

5 Work on your nerves.  Practice your talking points, so you don’t find yourself “umming” and “ahhing” throughout your presentation.  Pause when you need to make a point.  It’s great for pacing and lets your brain catch up.  Smile in appropriate places. Take it slow and communicate your message with authority and ease. Breathe!

Communication is one of the most basics things we do in business…and in life.  Becoming a good communicator takes practice.  It’s a skill to nurture.  Don’t overlook how practice can make perfect.

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Tell Me a Story

As a follow-up to last issue’s column called Adverpanicking©, I want to talk more about how important storytelling is to your brand.  Response to advertising comes in two basic forms: intellect and emotion.  The analytic position will often say something like, “Reach the right people to increase your advertising effectiveness.”  While that may be true, […]

As a follow-up to last issue’s column called Adverpanicking©, I want to talk more about how important storytelling is to your brand.  Response to advertising comes in two basic forms: intellect and emotion.  The analytic position will often say something like, “Reach the right people to increase your advertising effectiveness.”  While that may be true, to a certain extent, it’s not what ultimately creates a response.  My guess is you’ve likely been reaching the right people all along, but your message just isn’t connecting.

It’s not who you reach; it’s what you say that matters.  Make it count.

If mediocrity is your goal, by all means, blend in.

When an ad campaign fails, it’s easy to blame the radio station for “having the wrong listeners,” the newspaper for “placing it on the wrong page,” or the outdoor company for “the wrong locations.”  Don’t worry, and it’s the natural tendency.  As I’ve said before, the medium is neutral when you have the right message, coupled with great design…so Forget Reach, Think Speech.

Now before all the analysts and strategists in the media community lose their collective minds, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do your homework.  Data is important and helpful to the process, but that’s not what consumers see.

The greatest data in the world won’t save bad messaging and poor design.

Some business owners get frustrated with advertising because they too want to make it a science.  They often judge effectiveness incorrectly and have the wrong expectations.  Scientific analysis has given the world many wonderful things, but when it comes to advertising, leave the heavy science out of it.  It’s not a scientific process, and it can’t be explained that way.  Considering that the average consumer is exposed to approximately 5,000 messages each day, I’d say there are plenty of opportunities to reach someone, so let’s focus on how to grab and keep their attention.

Businesses, ask yourself this – Why do you exist? Why should people care? How do they see themselves in your story? The answers to those questions will never be found in a spreadsheet.

Why stories, you ask? Because we’re surrounded by, and consume them in every aspect of our lives. Music, Movies, Books, Vacations, Education, Social Media…you get the idea. From early cave paintings to the latest virtual reality device, we live and experience story telling.

Why should your brand be any different? I love this quote from Seth Godin –

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Remember from last time – what do you really sell?  Why should it matter? Now go tell a story with the consumer as the main character.

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Adverpanicking

Adverpanicking©

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different. The […]

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different.

The question I want you to ask yourself is, “Who cares?”

(We’ll come back to this later)

I’m often amazed at what passes for advertising these days.  The job of advertising goes far beyond circulating information. When done well, it’s an ongoing dialog with your customers as well as an invitation to attract new ones and build relationships. Cramming ads with hours, address, years in business, directions, low-quality images, a bunch of vendor logos and other irrelevant information, is a term I call Adverpanicking©
Day after day, week after week, there it is, on full display. The ads are screaming at me from every direction to try this new service, act now, today only, come to our show, eat here because, family owned since, blah, blah, blah…boring and forgettable.
They all suffer from the same problem – they answer questions no one is asking.  Bad advertising is about the business, and good advertising is about the customer. David Ogilvy once said, “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”

I’ve heard over the years, that advertising is supposed to sell products and drive business.  This is true! However, that’s an outcome, not the basis of messaging or design.  Marketing that focuses solely on the end result is a short-term strategy. It doesn’t build loyalty or a relationship to your brand.  It will sell some product, but as soon as a better price is found or the attention of the consumer is diverted elsewhere, you’ll likely lose them.

Instead, try approaching your advertising from the consumer’s point of view.  Sell the solution to a problem or engage the audience in a story about why your business should matter to them.  Be simple in your approach – less is always more.  And don’t tell me you have no time or money to brand, that’s nonsense and if ignored, seriously detrimental to your company’s future.

“Businesses need to understand what they are selling if they hope to create ad messages that will reach the intended audience,” said William Childs, Director of Marketing & Communications at Trifecta Technologies. “Harley-Davidson does not sell motorcycles; they sell freedom. Jack Daniels does not sell whiskey; they sell tradition.  If I owned a mattress store, I wouldn’t sell mattresses. I would sell a good night’s sleep.” added Childs
There are two sides to this issue – those working in the field of marketing & advertising and the clients we partner with in this endeavor.

To my fellow colleagues in the business – fight hard for the good ideas, challenge your clients to disrupt the status quo and tell them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear.  I know that our toughest task can often be pushing customers into the unknown and beyond their comfort zones.  When your motive is pure, and you truly care about their business, it’s worth it.

To the customers – If you’ve never taken an honest look at who you truly are or what you really sell, now is the time.  If it keeps you up at night thinking, consider it progress.  There are numerous professionals out there full of knowledge and ideas. Many of us love thinking about your business and creating stories to push your brand forward.
I ask again, “Who cares?”  That’s the question that needs to be answered.  Give your audience a reason to care.  Hell, make them angry if you have to, at least you’ll get a response.  Donny Deutsch said, “Better to have 35% of the people charged up about you and the rest hate you than to have 100% not care.”  That’s powerful stuff.  There’s more than enough mediocrity going around, and no one has ever done anything remarkable by blending in.

How do you start? Have a conversation and ask some questions.  I, for one, am always open to a cup of Joe and the sharing of ideas.

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How to Design a Successful Out of Town Conference

Planning an out of town conference does not need to be stressful when you are working with the expert staff of innovative professionals at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While a conference at a casino may seem unconventional, Mohegan Sun Pocono is a “one-stop shop” that offers meeting organizers the ability to create tailor-made experiences. Mohegan Sun […]

Planning an out of town conference does not need to be stressful when you are working with the expert staff of innovative professionals at Mohegan Sun Pocono. While a conference at a casino may seem unconventional, Mohegan Sun Pocono is a “one-stop shop” that offers meeting organizers the ability to create tailor-made experiences.

Mohegan Sun Pocono meets every objective and fits every budget, while allowing attendees to have experiences they won’t soon forget.

“At Mohegan Sun Pocono our meeting expectations are as high as yours. We host over 600 meetings and conferences every year,” said Mike Slivka, Director of Sales and Catering. “We work with Association and Corporate meeting organizers from all over the country to ensure that every detail is handled and that the event runs smoothly so when everyone is onsite they can have a productive meeting and then enjoy all our property has to offer.”

Slivka’s advice to meeting organizers outside the area is simple. “Disclose your budget and we will help you maximize it. When we have that information early on in the process, we can customize your experience with greater success all around.”

Slivka adds, “We love to be creative, and our clients love it too. Once you secure the date, talk to our food and beverage team early in the process and let us know your goals and objectives and feel free to send us some photos. The more information we have, the better we can design an event that is perfect for your organization; we can have some fun with it too, and make it uniquely yours.”

Finally Slivka states “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Call or email any time and we are happy to talk things through with you, no matter where you’re located. At Mohegan Sun Pocono, unparalleled service is an expectation, not an exception. We are here for you, from that first phone call or email until the event is complete. We aren’t satisfied until you are.”

Whether it’s a traditional meeting for 10 to 1,600 inside Mohegan Sun Pocono’s 20,000 square-foot Convention Center, its multiple, flexible and strikingly-designed individual meeting rooms, a unique meeting space inside Timbers Buffet, Pacers Clubhouse, Seasons Ballroom overlooking the track or in the center of it all at Center Bar; Mohegan Sun Pocono is dedicated to make your meeting a memorable and successful one.

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Billboard advertising is not limited to roadways anymore…

Living and working in the Lehigh Valley you cannot help but notice a billboard on Route 22, you can probably even remember some of your favorite ads.   What most people do not realize is how powerful and economical billboard advertising can be for any business or organization in the Lehigh Valley. Since this area is […]

Living and working in the Lehigh Valley you cannot help but notice a billboard on Route 22, you can probably even remember some of your favorite ads.   What most people do not realize is how powerful and economical billboard advertising can be for any business or organization in the Lehigh Valley.

Since this area is known for the many towns and roads that connect them, Out of Home Advertising (OOH) has a higher than average ability to impact local consumers throughout the course of day with a high level of efficiency and results.

In a market that is designated as part of the Philadelphia DMA (designated market area) coupled with the ever-increasing media fragmentation, OOH in the Lehigh Valley is more relevant and more powerful than ever.  OOH reaches people no matter how they consume their media; it makes them stop, notice and buy.  No other advertising format is more ever-present, or more creatively versatile.

In addition, Out of Home is achieving even a greater return on investment by triggering consumers to reach for their mobile devices to learn more about a product or service that they just saw on a billboard.  People always have their mobile device, PLUS, they spend about 70% of their waking hours away from home exposing them to OOH ads more than ever.  This coupling of OOH and online / mobile advertising has proven to be one of the most powerful combinations in today’s advertising arsenal.

OOH continues to be a core part of social media and mobile strategies and we will see more and more campaigns with ooh as the centerpiece.  Coca-Cola launched an integrated digital campaign in Times Square as an extension of its hugely successful “Share a Coke” campaign, incorporating large digital billboards, and Google search data, mobile and socially activated call to action.

This successful combination of billboards and on-line / mobile advertising has provided the foundation for the launch of Outdoor Extended from Adams Outdoor Advertising… extending an advertisers reach from on the road to on line.

This Outdoor Extended program delivers 4 key programming tactics that deliver your outdoor message in ads targeted to your customers by where they live, who they are, what they do and what they read and engage with on the internet.

To learn more you can contact Adams Outdoor Advertising at 610.266.9461

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dynamic-marketing

Dynamic Marketing

Podcasting As A Business Tool Business is not complicated. It really isn’t. However, the world we live in is very complicated and extremely noisy. You could offer the greatest product or service, yet if your distribution channels or marketing is weak or outdated you will not prosper. If you’ve achieved a lot or even a […]

Podcasting As A Business Tool

Business is not complicated. It really isn’t. However, the world we live in is very complicated and extremely noisy. You could offer the greatest product or service, yet if your distribution channels or marketing is weak or outdated you will not prosper. If you’ve achieved a lot or even a modicum of brand visibility that’s great; however, that’s not enough these days. It’s likely your competitors have similar presences in the marketplace, so it comes down to whom consumers like the most and trust the most. Trust however, is becoming harder to earn. Online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals do not have the same clout they did from even a few years ago. This is partly because too often the digital presence of a business doesn’t coincide with its real-world version. How many times have you had high hopes of something but the experience didn’t live up to the expectation? Savvy consumers realize it’s easy to conjure up an avatar, fake “reviews,” and manipulate posts on Facebook and other social media.

Enter podcasting with its dynamic nature. Your message — your voice — not text you write or images you post but rather your actual voice delivering your message is in consumers’ heads during some of the most private, impressionable moments of their day. Whereas anyone can get a slick website or employ a graphic designer so on the surface they look professional because podcasting “separates the boys from the men.” It will be immediately obvious if you don’t know what you’re talking about on a podcast. This works the other way, too. For those that paid their dues, the experts in their field let the world hear you! You know your stuff. People will realize this through your podcast. Podcasting can enhance your brand more effectively than any other marketing tool.

Podcasts are the best format for mobile, readily being consumed on the go. The information is portable, easy to share, and on-demand. Consumers decide when and where they listen. Open dialogues and roundtable discussions create a sense of community that your audience will appreciate when listening to your podcast.

Podcasting is a more personal way of marketing. It’s a way to become intimate with your existing or potential customers because they select your show. They chose you. Out of all of your “competition” your audience wants to hear you. You are essentially speaking to one person at a time who has invited you into their space. It’s the epitome of the book The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. Incidentally, another of that book’s main principles is, “If you’re not passionate enough about what your company does to find fuel for conversations every day, for hours on end, with as many people as possible, maybe you’re in the wrong business.” Are you starting to see why a podcast could be the greatest vehicle to tell your story, to set you apart in your field, to elevate your credibility, and/or to increase awareness of your brand?​

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previews7

It’s Time Your Business Gets Social

It’s a new year – make a resolution to get serious about social media. If your small business is still not paying attention to this important medium, now is the time to get involved. You may ask yourself, “does my business need to use it?” The answer is yes. You need social media in order […]

It’s a new year – make a resolution to get serious about social media. If your small business is still not paying attention to this important medium, now is the time to get involved. You may ask yourself, “does my business need to use it?” The answer is yes. You need social media in order to stay competitive and connect with new and existing customers.
Individuals in the United States spend almost 25% of their time online on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The people you are looking to do business with (your target market) are already using social media. If you are interested in reaching them, it’s necessary for your business to be where they are. Being active on social media increases the probability of your brand and messaging reaching a larger percentage of your target customer.

It’s vital you don’t get caught in the mindset that because you aren’t using social media, your competitors probably aren’t either. Do some research and you will most likely find your main competition is indeed utilizing these important online channels. In an ever-changing business landscape, you don’t want to find yourself lagging behind. When investigating your competitors, if you find your competition hasn’t yet embraced a social strategy, view this as an opportunity to leapfrog them before they realize they too need to start taking social seriously.

The majority of marketing approaches are very one-sided. A business broadcasts its message, and a person receives and analyzes it. This is a stark contrast to social media, which gives you the ability to communicate back with the customer and have real engagement. Building a fan base and following on social media lets your customers view you as more than just a business. Your clientele will feel as if they have a relationship with you, which will instill a feeling of trust and assurance. No matter what your business is, it’s a fact customers do business with those they trust and feel connected to.

Don’t get caught in the mindset that social media is only for the Fortune 500 companies or large national brands. As a business owner, you have the power to interact and listen to what your customers are saying about you online. When managed properly, social media can be a vital marketing channel. Social media isn’t a fad, and certainly isn’t going anywhere. Make 2016 the year you take control of your business’s online presence and visibility.

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5 Tips for Creating Effective Video for Your Business

Why do I need to do a video? I don’t want to be on TV! The answer is simple — It’s important to do something that helps you stand out. Emmy award winning television producers, Marta Countess of Countess Communications and Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions, both based in the Lehigh Valley, sat down […]

Why do I need to do a video? I don’t want to be on TV!

The answer is simple — It’s important to do something that helps you stand out.
Emmy award winning television producers, Marta Countess of Countess Communications and Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions, both based in the Lehigh Valley, sat down to offer their top 5 tips on the importance of business video.

1 Know Your Audience

Ashley: The way people view media and video has changed dramatically in the last decade. In the age of Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, attention spans are shorter than ever before and people often choose what to watch based on accessibility and duration.

Marta: You don’t have to wait to be picked by the traditional media for an interview. Instead, you can create and “publish” content on your website and share it on social media. Your videos and other media content can position you as the obvious expert and build an audience.

2 Find Your Voice

Marta: As a business owner, you already understand how important it is to develop your brand identity. It is the strength of your brand that compels people to work with you and buy from you. It goes well beyond your logo and your business card. Online video is an excellent way to build the strength of your brand. When you use video, they learn about your personality, about what you do, what types of services or products you offer and get some insight into your brand’s goals.

3 Create Your Story

Ashley: The absolute best thing that will come from creating a video is the creation of your story! Rarely do we take the time to share our journey, express our views, and really convey our message. Often, we are mired in the details of our business, as we have to be to succeed, but this level of detail is rarely needed in your video. A video company that has the ability to communicate your vision will be able to help you craft your story in the most effective manner. Less is more and short is sweet!

4 Show Off Your Assets

Marta: In the world of business, B2B, B2C, you have to build relationships to build your business. You really have to get to know the person. You have to like what they’re doing and trust that you’re going to be in good hands. Video can quickly help a viewer get to know you better. It can show that you’re an expert at what you do as well as show that you are a helpful, caring professional.

5 To Hire (or not to hire) a Pro

Ashley: I can make my family a nice dinner on a Wednesday night, but when I want a really spectacular meal on a Saturday night, I go out to eat! Technology has allowed us to all be active in the video arena and there is definitely a time and a place for self made videos but taking the time to work with a professional on your main videos will prove to be well worth it. For the reasons mentioned above, a professional production company brings more than shooting and editing to the table. In the end, you will not only have an amazing video, better website and improved SEO, you will know your brand better, hear your voice more clearly, share your story more effectively, and let everyone know why you are someone to be trusted… and you may even have some fun doing it… And isn’t that what it’s really all about?!

Marta: Most business people need help creating good videos. They are experts in the work they do, but video is more than likely not part of their skill set. Just reading about video production techniques online or monkeying around with iMovie won’t give you the polished content and visual presentation that showcases their business in the best light. You really have to spend some time and a little bit of money to get started in a professional way. You do not need lots of whistles and bells and green screens and dancing dogs or anything like that. You simply need to put a professional polish on it.

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